August 5, 2014
In this year’s mid-term elections, every seat in the New York legislature will be on the ballot. In the 52nd Senate District – which includes Broome, Tioga, Chenango and parts of Delaware counties – Republican incumbent Tom Libous is facing two challengers.
Democrat Anndrea Starzak is a retired teacher and former Vestal town supervisor. Her opponent, Libous, is under indictment for using his role in state government to secure benefits for his son. Morning Edition host, Monica Sandreczki, recently sat down with Starzak and started by asking what could be done in Albany to stem the tide of corruption allegations.
Anndrea Starzak : I think I would work to look at the transparency in government, to make sure that what we are doing is talked about, is reviewed and can be open to the people. I think you need to have laws that take away whatever loopholes for big money interests that we can, so we have to look at that, especially when you’re talking about bribery or corruption laws, anything like that. We need to make sure we ourselves hold ourselves as comparable to the law. We need to have rules that say that when you have campaign funds they should be used for campaign issues, not for personal issues and perhaps not for lawyers and perhaps not for cars or clothing. And I think we need to make Albany responsible to the people.
Morning Edition : Despite the federal indictment of Senator Libous, he’s still the No. 2 Republican in the Senate and has been elected 13 times. Don’t you think it could hurt the Southern Tier to have a weaker representative than him?
AS : Well, that’s because of the issue of not having term limits and having a system that grows on the time that you’re in office. Of course, that will happen, but does that necessarily mean another people could not come in and do well for the Southern Tier? No I don’t think it means that at all. I think the real issue is a lot of that clout is going to be gone starting in January because the Senate is changing out of Republican hands. It will go back to a new majority of Democrats and that clout and strength he brought in other issues will be gone and I will bring certain issues back and keep clout back here. I think it’s important to look at that and realize the long term value of much of that will be gone. The other thing is I won’t be diverted by legal issues; I won’t be diverted by other personal issues, so that I will have time and energy to focus on the needs.
ME : Where do you stand on fracking?
AS : I really am glad the court has upheld the home rule act for fracking bans. I feel the issues really do belong in the community. But I think from the point of view of looking at infrastructure, one of the real concerns is what trucks and huge equipment would do to town roads and bridges. None of our bridges in this area, the small ones in the towns are made to withstand these huge trucks and vehicles going over it. If you don’t have a strong oversight, you’re not going to be able to protect the people in the community who have to pay the taxes for that upkeep. So I think there are huge questions that have to be looked at that I don’t think have adequately been addressed at this point. And of course there’s the issue of the health study – there is not really a comprehensive health study that’s been done. And I think that has to be done.
ME : One issue in particular people are concerned with is big corporate tax breaks. Besides Start Up NY, there are corporate income tax breaks, sales tax, all to encourage business in New York. Do you think they work?
AS : I think some of the large tax breaks that have happened have not always brought in the jobs they said that they have said they were going to and have not been policed enough to make sure they maintain those jobs and sustain those jobs, so I think we need to look at more sustainability in that when we give a tax break, we say ten years, but we need to make sure they don’t pull out the day ten years is up. So, it may be a way of encouraging business, but I think my point is that we need to even the playing field as well. Obviously people who have been here, who are in small businesses, they should have the ability to find some of these tax incentives.